Policy 19: Agricultural and land-based rural business diversification

What we're trying to achieve

[3.19.01] Farming is an essential part of the Lake District. We seek to ensure it has a future by supporting agricultural and land-based rural businesses to diversify to help sustain the rural economy, the Special Qualities and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, and maintain the character of the landscape and environment.

Policy 19: Agricultural and land-based rural business diversification

We want diversification proposals for agricultural and land based rural businesses to help sustain the rural economy, and maintain the character of the landscape and environment.

Agricultural businesses

To achieve this we will support proposals that demonstrate sustainable practices and outcomes, and where they:
– sustain the long term operation of the farm business; and
– do not compromise the working of the farm business; and
– are located within or well related to existing building groups; or
– are a small-scale renewable or low carbon energy scheme.

Privately managed estates

Diversification proposals on privately managed estates will be supported where a proposal demonstrates sustainable practices and outcomes, and is in accordance with an up to date endorsed Whole Estate Plan that delivers and secures multiple wider public benefits such as employment and enterprise opportunities, sustainable access, social and cultural facilities, environmental enhancements, conserving and enhancing heritage assets, and improvements to land management.

Forestry

Small-scale diversification proposals for forestry businesses will be supported where a proposal demonstrates sustainable practices and outcomes, sustains the long term operation of the business and secures multiple wider public and environmental benefits.

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Current Situation

[3.19.02] There are approximately 1,160 commercial holdings in the Lake District employing in the region of 2,600 people according to the latest (2017) Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs June Survey of Agriculture & Horticulture. Further research by Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs identifies that approximately 60 per cent of farm businesses across the country engage in other activities in addition to those carried out on their own farm and that of the 32,500 farms that have diversified the average diversified enterprise income was £15,200. Forestry and estate management are also important land-based rural sectors which help to sustain the character of the Lake District and may require diversified enterprises to help support these businesses.

[3.19.03] The average income from farming enterprises is low in comparison to other industries. And the income from farming is unpredictable, easily affected by currency exchange rates, and supply and demand factors. The uncertainty over the future of farming and Brexit means diversification of agricultural businesses can help to sustain existing businesses by providing more predictable revenue streams, however, diversification generally requires significant investment and commitment to a long
payback period.

Implementation

[3.19.04] The purpose of this policy is to support the long term sustainability of farming, forestry and privately managed estates to protect and sustain the contribution they make to the authenticity of the Special Qualities and attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. Where the proposal involves the use of buildings, priority will first be given to the reuse or extension of existing buildings. Where new or replacement buildings are required they should be closely related to existing building groups. To ensure proposal for new development do not compromise the working of the farm business we will not support the piecemeal stripping of assets from farms without regard for the overall viability of farm holdings.

[3.19.05] Whole Estate Plan are a document prepared by individual land owning estates. They set out the assets of the estate and the opportunities and threats which the estate may encounter, and describes their plans for the future. A Whole Estate Plan should include environmental and social assets, public benefits, and issues as well as economic development projects. An endorsed Whole Estate Plan will be a material consideration in determining planning applications and will provide a solid understood contextual background to any development proposals. The inclusion of a development proposal within a Whole Estate Plan however does not guarantee that planning permission will be granted and any proposal will still need to comply with relevant development plan policies

Previous consultation responses

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